Parody flunks out

By HARVEY SILVERGLATE  |  July 30, 2008

Media commentators, members of the chattering classes, and the presidential candidates themselves have got to shake the politically correct bonds that have suffocated much public and political discourse in recent years. They need to invite a more liberated and intelligent public discourse, consonant with the seriousness of the challenges facing our nation. If a presidential candidate cannot — or is afraid to — admit that he sees humor as well as a political point in the kind of parodic attack (on his own critics!) represented by the New Yorker cover, then we are still very far from recovering from the academic plague that leaked out of the campuses in the 1980s and still inhibits free speech outside of the ivy gates. If Obama wants to be the nation’s leader, he can start leading here. He needs to leave the atmosphere of censorship at the Harvard Law School and join the ranks of free men and women.

Harvey Silverglate, a Cambridge-based lawyer and writer, is co-author of The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses. His forthcoming book about the Department of Justice is due from Encounter Books early in 2009. He can be reached Jan Wolfe and Kyle Smeallie assisted in the preparation of this piece.

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